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YT Rolling Circus / Tues CF Pro ride

Swinley Forest is home to some great trails and the team at Swinley Bike Hub arrange some incredible events too. The #Swinduro, the recent Fox Proframe demo day, regular night rides and BBQ’s, to name a few. From May 5-7, it was no different and I got to channel my inner Gwin… YT Industries had come to town on their ‘Rolling Circus’ tour; a global showcase of the YT demo fleet of Jeffsys, Capras and the Tues.

Of the 10 European stops, 3 were in the UK and I was stoked when I heard one of the venues was Swinley. I booked the day off work immediately with the intention of rocking up and trying all 4 models on the day.

The 5th came around and due to an X-Ray appointment in the morning, I didn’t arrive at Swinley until around 10.30. Boo. By this time, the queue was pretty beastly due to the huge demand of trying out the models from the direct sell German brand, so I chatted with a few of the crowd and then went for a ride on some other bikes in the hope the queue would die down.

Sadly, although the queues did quieten down in the afternoon, I didn’t get the chance to try either of the Jeffsys or the Capra which was a shame, but the vibe on the day was superb; chilled beats, smiling riders, an ever tasty BBQ and the hub had some great products on sale from Fox and Dakine (two of my favourite riding brands), so I was kept entertained even when off the bike.

If you know Swinley, you’ll know that, whilst a brilliant trail centre with something to cater for everyone, a downhill venue it is not. That meant the 2016 UCI World Cup winning Tues was not in as high demand as the trail and enduro bikes. So, Swinley team rider Michael Wilson and I had a chat and before we knew it, we were picking up some jaw-dropping, super stealthy carbon Tues models; Michael took the large £2,870 CF,  with Rockshox Boxxer and Kage shock, whilst I took a new for 2017 XL sized, £3,380 CF Pro, equipped with Fox 40 and X2 shock. At 6’1″, the XL felt perfect.

On the large CF model.

I should add at this point, I have never ridden a downhill bike, so immediately I was impressed by the ultra plush seemingly endless travel… and that’s just taking the bike for a quick warm up around the green trail (possibly the most overkill bike for a green trail ever!).

The CF Pro is dripping with choice components. From the E*Thirteen LG1+ wheelset, cranks and cassette (7 speed, 9-21 ratio), the stealthy carbon frame (203mm front and 208mm rear travel), carbon Renthal fatbars and Integra 35 stem, this bike felt absolutely indestructible, whilst also being a thing of beauty.  Impressively, the CF Tues weighs in at a very modest 35lbs too! Super slack angles, 650b wheels (we’re still waiting to see if 29″ DH is the next big thing… roll on Fort Bill) ensured that the bike is planted, grippy and railed. All in all, quality kit, quality looks and all at a quality price.

Measurements wise, the XL has a top tube of 647mm with a reach of 470mm. Chainstays remain the same across the size range at 435mm, as does the head angle at an ultra slack 63.5 deg. With a wheelbase of 1258mm, it’s around 60mm longer than my Aeris, so nothing too drastic which helped me adjust to the bike very quickly.

The CF Pro

Although the bike was light for what it is, it’s hardly the right bike to ride uphill (duhhhh…). Conveniently however, Tristan had hired a Toyota Hilux for the weekend… so, Michael and I hopped in the back and were treated to a VIP experience; Swinley Forests inaugural shuttle service!

It was a bit of a surreal experience, getting driven to the top of a trail in style – Michael ran a live Facebook video to document the experience, which was a great laugh!

We got to the top of Blue 14 and tried a couple of runs on the DH monsters. Simply put… they flew. I know this trail very well and feel I know every bump, rut and hole. On the Tues, it was like riding on an F1 track.. buttery smooth once again, but great fun too! After a few runs of the trail, we headed to the woods to mess about on a hidden drop, which has a few lines of varying size. Here’s a little clip of Michael and I doing what I think may be my biggest drop to date:

I was stoked to have hit that line, as I love the feeling you get when you know you’re progressing. Big thanks to Michael too for the encouragement. We headed back after a brilliant little session on the Tues models for a burger and a catch up. All in all, a top day, even if the queues were rather long, which did leave a few hopeful testers a little frustrated.

The Tues feels like an insane bike and something I would love to own. However, it is absolutely overkill for anything I am likely to ride for now, although would be a good laugh at places like Bike Park Wales or Forest of Dean. I’ll admit, I am still tempted by a downhill bike to add to the stable though, and I don’t think I’d go wrong with a Tues CF. After all, if it’s good enough for Aaron Gwin, surely it’s good enough for little old me! Again, it’s a thing of beauty to look at, especially in the gloriously stealthy Pro guise, with full black everything! Perfect for Stealth Riders worldwide!

Whilst I was disappointed with not being able to ride the Jeffsy models and the Capra, overall, the Rolling Circus was a great event. Tris and the team ensured it was superbly organised and the YT guys were awesome, helping with any queries, getting you set up on the demo bikes and also offering out some mega tasty beer (thanks to Kia at the hub, I got to sample a fair few of these!).

The tireless efforts that the team, shop staff and ambassadors put in to ensure everybody has a good time is, at times, unreal. They always manage to take a huge event and make it incredibly personal, as though you’re one of the team or an old mate catching up for a chat. It’s hard to explain, but their ethos is about getting rad. You don’t have to be the best or the fastest, you just need to have a great time. That is Swinley summed up.

Back to the bike quickly, the YT Tues is a formidable bit of kit, capable of much more than I am. However, if you like your trails rocky as fook, rutted to hell and steep as a cliffside, this is absolutely the bike for you. I hate the term, but the ‘cockpit’ looks sooooo nice too. The little touches such as the placement of graphics helps remind you that you’re riding a world class downhill bike, guaranteed to leave you smiling for hours after every single ride.

It’s no wonder YT are gaining more and more market dominance year on year. Their formula of producing killer looking, flawlessly performing bikes and matching them with some of the best riders in the world is working very well and YT bikes are becoming the machine of choice for a massive amount of riders globally. The Rolling Circus has only just begun, so by the time they’ve finished the world tour, there will no doubt be thousands of happy new members of the YT Mob, ready to shred their local trails with a massive grin.

YT,  and Swinley, thank you for having me and treating me like a VIP on the day. I felt truly humbled and incredibly grateful, you’re all amazing. I’ll sum the event up by stealing YT’s tagline: GOOD TIMES.

Until next time, catch you later.

Ian @ Stealth Riders

www.yt-industries.com 

 

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Its been a while…

Hey y’all! Before I start, let me apologise for the lack of posts lately. Since I got back from Abu Dhabi, life has been insanely busy!

Firstly, my poor bike has been off the road awaiting new forks under warranty. The 2015 batch of RockShox Pike RCT3’s had a known fault with a creaky CSU (Crown Steerer Upper). After the abuse the bike has undergone over the past year from racing to shredding local trails and taking bigger hits as my riding progresses, my Pikes suffered the dreaded creaking.

I popped to Bird HQ and the guys, as ever, were super accommodating and got the forks sent back to RockShox. A few weeks later, a set of 150mm Pikes arrived for my bike. The ones sent off were 160mm, so Dave very kindly offered to replace them for a set of 2017 Lyrik RCT3’s in their 160mm guise. Gratefully I accepted and my bike has now been running the forks for a few weeks. The major change is the front end feels a lot more planted, thanks to a stiffer brace and slightly longer lower legs. The ride is sublime now too; buttery smooth, instant response and all round beautiful feelings. A huge thank you to Bird as always; I’ve said it countless times, but their service is seriously incredible, despite them being mega busy with the launch of their new Aeris 120 and Aeris 145 models (which look stunning… I need to get a test ride on both and report back, so stay tuned).

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Work has also been crazy… I’ve left the world of homeworking and returned to office life after an offer I couldn’t refuse, so time has been lacking in order for me to post as regularly as I’d have liked. Any spare time I’ve had, I’ve been trying to get the miles in to reach my goal of 1000 off road miles this year. I’m super happy to say I hit that last week. I guess I need to set the bar higher for 2017, considering I’ve got some epic adventures planned in between racing!

On the subject of racing, the Southern Enduro series goes on sale on 3rd December, so I’ll be up early hoping to bag my place in all 4 rounds. The 2017 series will see new venues such as Okeford Bike Park and Pippingford Park (I say sir, how posh!), which look brilliant. If the 2016 series was anything to go by, 2017 will be bigger, better and bolshier. I cannot wait to get back on the trails in competition and hopefully move up the ranks a little (or a lot!)

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Milland in April. Photo: BigMac Photography

The 2017 racing will now see me racing in my custom Stealth Riders jersey too, thanks to Stak Racewear. I am over the moon with how awesome the jerseys are and I’ll be looking to get some produced for anybody interested. If you want your own Stealth Riders jersey with your name on the back, get in touch here. I’ll be looking to place orders in December/January, which gives plenty of time for them to arrive for the race season. At a guess, they’ll be £35 including postage (UK, overseas may be a little more).

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In other news, I’ve been out and about in the muck recently, covering Swinley and the Surrey Hills mostly. A few night rides have happened and I’ve got some new lights courtesy of MTB Batteries; their Lumenator combo is a steal at £145, producing 2000 lumens from a tiny head torch and dual bar mounted light. Both are incredibly light, powerful and their throw and pitch is perfect. I’d recommend them massively and will be doing a full review after a few more rides.

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The weather has turned, but the trails are still running sweet. Over the last few months, my riding has progressed more and more, with drops getting much more comfortable and I’ve started dipping my toe into gaps and jumps too. Here’s a little vid of a recent mess about with the new forks at Swinley Forest:

I’ve also conquered another nemesis that’s been hanging over me on Secret Santa in the Surrey Hills.. it’s not much to most, but there’s a gap jump on the trail that I’ve always taken the chicken run past. On Saturday just gone, I finally hit it, sending the bike across the ~10ft gap. Granted, I landed like a squid, but the first is the worst, so next time should be spot on. Next up, Northern Monkey….

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It’s not much, but it’s another one I can tick off!

Anyway, that’s enough from me for now! I’m due to be picking up  a prize shortly (oooo….), so stay tuned for that post!

Until next time, cheers,

Ian @ Stealth Riders

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No dig, no ride

As you may know by now, I’m racing in the Southern Enduro this year, with the first round at a closely guarded location in Milland, West Sussex on April 17th. A few weeks ago the event organiser, Scott Fitzgerald, put a message on various social media sites asking for volunteers for a dig day. I signed up without hesitation. Firstly, as we all know; no dig, no ride. I wanted to get involved more in the background, helping to shape the trails I’ll be racing on. Secondly, I figured it’d be good to get the lay of the land to truly understand what I’d let myself in for.

What I didn’t know when I signed up to dig, was that Scott had planned to invite volunteers back for a pre-race test to check the finished product out and to help bed the trails in.

Sunday, 3rd April rolls around and I’m in the car heading down the A3 blasting some questionable music (those that know me, know my music taste is eclectic… and that’s putting it kindly!). I arrived in Milland to meet Laurence, Sam and a few of the other volunteers that I met on the dig day and we waited for the rest to arrive; more volunteers, event organisers and some headline sponsors, including the guys from Bird Cycleworks; Dan, Dave, Josh and Tomas.

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Once everybody had arrived, we set off on a small ride to the venue and immediately headed up the transition to stage 1. It had rained the night before, so the transition was super muddy, slippery and all round hideous, which I thought would be the shape of things to come. How wrong I was. I won’t give too much away, but anybody entered into this is in for a real treat!

We got to stage 1 and buzzed down through a mix of tight, loose, loamy singletrack and some nicely packed rollers to end the stage. Stage 1 was easily the flattest of the 4 stages, with a lot of pedalling required. Hopefully the miles I’ve been putting in over the past few months will pay dividends on this one!

Heading back up the transition to stage 2, I was feeling stoked – my first enduro stage completed (albeit slowly) and I was still in one piece! This isn’t going to be too hard… yeah right. Stage 2 began immediately with a drop into a tight berm, with super loose, off camber switchbacks making up most of the stage. It was like riding on a slip & slide, drifting, holding on for dear life. This was my kind of stage though.. loose, technical and flowy. Great stuff. It’s worth adding at this stage that the first practise runs were at a gentle pace to scope the trails and pick my lines for the second runs.

Another sloppy ride up the transition to stage 3. This is the stage I helped shape on the dig day, but I only saw the bottom of it. Once again, the loam was fresh and the berms were loose. I was sauntering down the stage approaching a road gap and was so busy focusing on that, I totally missed the drop before it and went sketchy into a berm, wiping out in an instant. No biggie. Dust yourself off, get back on and ride. Stage 3 ended with some insanely tight singletrack through a coppice and a nice little jump into the finish, which was great fun. Here’s how not to ride a bike:

Back up for the final climb to stage 4. The final stage was short, fast and flowy, with some amazing rollers, doubles and high, tight off camber turns the left me giggling like a child, leading to a sprint finish through a field to the end. Cracking stuff, time to do it all again!

The second practise runs were much better. I’d scoped my lines and approached with more speed, although my front tyre always wanted to go a different direction to the rest of my bike. Tyre choice will be invaluable on the 17th. Most importantly, I remained on the bike throughout all stages on the second attempts, which gave me a huge confidence boost. The day wrapped up with a nice cold pint of Guinness at the local pub and some post-ride banter.. perfect!

The pre-race testing was more valuable than I could have ever imagined. I thought I was progressing well with fitness and, going into the day, I felt I was pretty fast on the bike. How wrong I was! Some of the guys there made me realise that I have a long way to go, with not much time remaining. I’ve got the speed, but technique requires a lot of work if I don’t want to be in the bottom of the pack. I know for sure I’ll not be standing on any podiums on the day (barring any miracles!), and currently feel like the middle of the table will be a great result.

Two weeks to go until the big day, the actual timed race. It’s time to put the miles in, work on my sprints and, most importantly my technique, especially on off camber switchbacks and drops. Will I do well? Will I suck with more force than the latest Dyson? Who knows. What I do know, is that I am super excited to head back to Milland, to give the first round my absolute best. Mind over matter, it’s time to smash the Southern Enduro and give it my all.

Lastly, I just wanted to say a huge thanks to Scott for inviting me back, and also to him and the whole team at QECP Collective, fellow volunteers, diggers and anybody else invoved in the Southern Enduro – the venue is amazing and if the other rounds shape up like Milland, this is going to be one hell of an Enduro series!

Don’t forget to follow Stealth Riders on Instagram, to stay up to date with the latest news, progress and insights. You’re all amazing for reading this, thanks for sticking around.

Cheers,

Ian @ Stealth Riders

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All the gear, no idea

It’s Easter Sunday, I’ve consumed my body weight in chocolate and it’s been raining all weekend. The weather hasn’t stopped me tearing up the trails, hopefully you’ve been out as well. There’s a saying in the Mountain Bike world; there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.

On this note, I thought a post for beginners would perhaps be useful. I’ve been riding a lot with people new to the sport and riders getting back into the sport after a few years out, so they’re either absolute beginners, or technology has changed enough for questions to be asked. Some of the questions that have come up are frequently asked, so with any luck, this may help you if you’re looking to get into MTB, or if you’ve had a few years out!

Really, everything can be summed up by watching this video by the guys at IFHT:

But, to help out a bit more, some common Q&A’s are below:

What type of bike should I get?

This is a rather personal choice and depends what type of riding you want to do. If you plan on getting driven to the top of a mountain and riding down, you should look at Downhill (DH), or possibly Freeride (FR) bikes. If you’d rather be doing some super long distance singletrack, a Cross Country (XC) bike may be up your street. However, for the trail centre riders and weekend warriors, a Trail, All Mountain or Enduro bike will more often than not be the best weapon of choice. Full suspension, with 140-160mm of travel and slack head angles, 1x gearing and a dropper post seems to be today’s standard. The best thing you can do is research and ask your local bike shop (LBS) if you’re unsure.

Size is important too – again, your LBS will be able to help here, but be sure to check Geometry charts carefully if you’re buying online.

What should I take with me when I ride?

Again, personal preference here, but below is what I take with me on my usual rides. Most importantly, (after a bike of course) are a helmet and a huge smile; the rest is optional!

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On the body – Helmet, cycling specific shorts and jersey, full finger gloves, kneepads and flat soled shoes (Five Tens are awesome) are my go to kit. Not pictured are socks and a padded liner short to keep your undercarriage comfy!

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In the bag – Bandage, alcohol wipe and surgical tape make for a very basic first aid kit. Powerlink, chain tool, allen/hex key set and a small multi tool, Energy bar, tablets (to pop in your water – bladder not pictured) or gel and a spare tube, tyre lever and pump (not pictured) are great to have. Zip ties and electrical tape are useful for ‘bodge’ fixes to get you home in a squeeze.

Bottle or bladder?

Bladder.. what? Simply, it’s a plastic reservoir with a drinking tube that fits snugly in your backpack. Most hydration packs will come with one, and they’re fantastic. I usually take a bladder filled with 1.5-2 litres of water in my backpack, as I can keep everything together and secure. For smaller rides, a water bottle would be fine, but I would personally always recommend a bladder for anything over 2 hours. Some good companies to look at are CamelBak, Osprey and Evoc.

Where to buy a bike from?

These days, the internet is full of bike sites, with massive sales to attract business. Direct sale sites (Such as Bird Cycleworks, Canyon and YT) are really starting to take a serious chunk of the online market, as they cut out the middle man (physical shops), which allow them to offer incredible bikes for incredible prices. The only downside is that the service will more often than not be through email and phone. Luckily, Bird are local to me and really do offer some of the absolute best service in the industry.

Local Bike Shops are also a great place to buy from, as you can get some very personalised service and the aftersales is usually very impressive. Brilliant Bikes in Chobham, or Swinley Bike Hub, for example. The benefit of a Local Bike Shop is that you’ll usually be able to demo the bike properly, to allow you to get a feel for how it rides.

I tend to avoid chain stores, purely because they work on volume, which means the service can be a lot worse (I am generalising here!). If you are set on a bike from a chain store, please check everything is tightened properly for your own sake.. from experience, loose bolts can cause major problems to your bike and you! You can expect the test ride to be in a car park, if you’re lucky.

What should I upgrade first?

You don’t have to upgrade anything, just ride and enjoy it! That said, a lot of companies will stock lower specification pedals, handlebars, stems and saddles, to allow them to offer higher end gearing, wheels or suspension.

If you’re adamant on changing parts, shop around and know what you want. Pedals can make a huge difference, Shimano Saints or DMR Vaults (if you’re riding with flat pedals) are both outstanding (M530 or XT Trail pedals if you’re clipping in are both superb). Stems and bars are a personal choice, but for trail riding, generally the wider the bar and the shorter the stem, the more fun you’ll have. Charge make some extremely comfortable saddles on a budget, with their award winning ‘Spoon’ available for around £25 (or less if you shop around)!

Should I service myself?

If you have the space to do so, absolutely. The more you learn, the better. If you have a mechanical issue when you’re out riding, you may just be able to get yourself home if you spend the time to learn some basic maintenance. In the Winter months, the main thing is keeping the bike clean, lubricated and rust free.. look after your bike and it’ll look after you. I personally use Muc Off products, although Hope, Pedros and Fenwicks also make some great cleaning gear.

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In terms of servicing, Park Tools not only do the best tools, they have an amazing resource of information online, or YouTube is your friend here! It all else fails, go to your LBS and ask if you can watch what they do to fix your bike. Most mechanics shouldn’t mind, as cyclists love to talk bike to anybody willing to listen (even if that’s their poor wife that couldn’t care less about cycling… sorry Emily!)

With any luck, this has helped you out at least a little. If you’d like any questions answered, leave a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow the Stealth Riders Instagram, and if you like this post, subscribe to keep up to date!

Cheers,

Ian @ Stealth Riders

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Thanks to Osc, Jason, Adam and Em for the help on making this post!